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On the Strip, a calm response to mass shooting at UNLV

A couple visiting the Las Vegas Strip from Kansas said they were unfazed by the news of the UNLV mass shooting.

“It could happen anywhere,” Stephanie Fawcett said while drinking coffee with her husband, Brennan, near New York-New York on Thursday morning. They had traveled to Las Vegas to see Garth Brooks perform at Caesars Palace.

Brennan Fawcett said he they felt “as safe as we could feel.”

It was business as usual on the Strip Thursday morning as many in town to enjoy shows, gaming and the National Finals Rodeo were just getting out of their rooms to grab some food and coffee and play slots. Most of the tourists who spoke to the Review-Journal were in town for NFR, which will take place this week and next the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus. The first day of the rodeo was canceled because of the shooting.

Those interviewed said visiting a city where a mass shooting just occurred wasn’t causing them much worry or serious concerns for their safety.

“I mean it does make you a little bit more aware. You kind of keep your eyes open,” said Vickie Secor, who came for the rodeo with her husband, Bob, from Bozeman, Montana, and will be here until Sunday.

Bob Secor said they have traveled to Las Vegas a number of times and there are some things they take into account when they visit to ensure a sense of safety — mainly paying attention to their surroundings — but it’s not just related to shootings.

“You always do that in Vegas,” he said. “It’s just situational awareness.”

Three people were killed and one was wounded in the shooting Wednesday at UNLV. The gunman was killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers at Beam Hall at the Lee School of Business, Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill said.

The Metropolitan Police Department has yet to identify the suspect. However, it is believed to be 67-year-old Anthony Polito, a professor who had unsuccessfully sought a job at the school, a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation told the Associated Press.

Las Vegas is no stranger to mass shootings. Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay on Oct. 1, 2017, killing 60 people before taking his own life.

Nadia Serrao, who has been working on the Strip for 13 years, was manning the customer service booth outside the MGM Grand for information on trips to the Grand Canyon Thursday morning. She said the city has a built-in sense of resiliency now.

“I’ve seen us overcome a lot as far as a community,” said Serrao, who lives close to Boulder Highway. “And working on the Strip and being in sales, you see a lot of stuff and talk to a lot of people.”

Las Vegas’ tourism industry has largely recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, as visitation to Southern Nevada has been on a steady climb this year, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Ladora Forrester, who came with her friends from northeast Alabama for one night to celebrate her and her friend’s birthday, and to attend NFR, said the news of the UNLV shooting wasn’t really on their minds at all and definitely would not deter them from coming back to the city as tourists.

“We’re not worried,” she said as they played slots inside New York-New York. “We’re here to see some cowboys.”

Contact Patrick Blennerhassett at pblennerhassett@reviewjournal.com.

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